A celebration of food from Istria in Croatia

We (my dearly beloved and I) celebrated our wedding anniversary at the weekend. If I tell you it’s 22 years, will you believe me? – it makes me feel soooo old. But then who’d believe my oldest is 17 – I hardly dare tell strangers in case they guess my age too, rather than mistaking me for a gorgeous 30-something.

Anyway, for this celebration I came up with a brainwave which I hope to repeat on future occasions. It was to invite some friends around for a dinner, themed on our recent holiday in Istria in Croatia, perhaps using up some gourmet goodies and wine we had brought back. We could relive the memories of our holiday, the restuarants we ate in and perhaps share some travel tales with friends.

Luckily, I had brought back a jar of truffle paste, some wine and olive oil from our recent holiday in Istria, the heart shaped province of Croatia that is closest to Italy. Here’s the menu I came up with;

Langoustines in a tomato sauce with salad, inspired by the seafood meal we ate in the Viking restaurant at Limski Channel. The Channel is a fjord-like inlet, with steeply wooded limestone sides and is famed for the clear water where oysters and mussels are farmed. We had a fantastic meal of oysters, mussels and a seafood platter, surrounded by other family groups enjoying the same.

I made a sauce in advance by frying some chopped shallots and garlic in butter, then adding some skinned and chopped fresh tomatoes, to make a light tomato sauce. When we were ready to eat, I tossed the whole fresh king prawns in the pan for a few minutes until they were cooked through, then served with a green salad of baby spinach and watercress.

For our second course from Croatia we ate fresh pasta with mushrooms and truffle paste, inspired by the pasta with truffle shavings I ate at Bastia, in Grožnjan, the artist’s hill town. When I visited the Zigante shop, devoted to truffle products I bought a small but potent jar of the truffle paste.

Again, I prepared the sauce in advance, frying sliced onions in butter until soft then adding sliced cap mushrooms until it was all cooked through. I removed most of the liquid and boiled it to concentrate it, then added it back with some double cream. At the last minute I added the jar of truffle paste and stirred through, serving on the freshly cooked tagliatelle.

For desert, I made a strudel with plums soaked in a Muscat wine I bought in the hill-town of Motovun – we didn’t actually try this in Croatia, but I know that strudel style pastries are fairly typical in Croatia. We drank it with the muscat to accompany. The wines in Istria were really good, but because they don’t really produce enough to export, you’ll rarely find them abroad. The wine we tried was made by one of the local wine and olive oil producers, Agrolaguna, whose olive groves surrounded our hotel at Plava Laguna, near Poreč.

I laid out sheets of filo pastry, brushing every so often with butter, then added the partially cooked stoned plum halves that I had baked in the oven with sugar and muscat. More sugar sprinkled over the plums, then roll the leaves of pastry over, then coat with sugar and butter on top. I baked it in a medium oven for around 30 mins.

What do you think of my idea of extending your holiday through a menu inspired by what you have enjoyed on holiday? – perhaps it’s something you already do. Salmon with dill followed by meatballs from Stockholm? Lamb slow cooked with olive oil and thyme after visiting Greece? From Bristol, perhaps my lemon roast chicken with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch?

Do let me know your holiday favourites.

P.S. I hope you noticed the efforts of my friend and dinner guest Sumi, who’s a professional food stylist (or did you think food always looked this good?)

This is posted as part of Wanderfood Wednesday – hosted over at Wanderlust and Lipstick. Do head over to taste some cream cakes and other delicious delights.

Check for the best hotel prices in Porec and book here.

Other posts you’ll enjoy
A seafood feast at Limski Kanal in Istria
On the hunt for the Istrian truffle in Croatia
Postcard No 3 from Istria in Croatia

See all my Istria photos on Flickr


heatheronhertravels' Croatia - Istrian food photoset heatheronhertravels’ Croatia – Istrian food photoset

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  • Reply
    September 9, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Heather and Guy

    thank you both for such a wonderful evening. Lovely company and absolutely stunning Croatian inspired menu which I can thoroughly recommend as a pre marathon supper!

    Many Congratulations to you both for completing 22 years of marital bliss!

    Our turn next to cook for you.

    Love Sumi and Dick xx

  • Reply
    September 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    This is an absolutely awesome idea. I’m completely inspired to have a dinner party myself based on this. Your food does look beautiful, by the way! Kudos to Sumi.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Congratulations & Happy Anniversary! I actually DID think you were 30-something when I first met you…

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks Abi, you flatter me too much!

    I’ve added the link to Sumi’s website if anyone’s interested

  • Reply
    Wandering Educators
    September 10, 2009 at 12:32 am

    your photos are incredible. AND, the food looks too, too delicious! happy anniversary!

  • Reply
    marina k. villatoro
    September 10, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Ok, I want to eat where you eat, I know it’s not very possible since I’m here and you’re tehre, but you find the best eats.

    Congrats on your 22nd! What is age anyways, the older we become the better we are:)

  • Reply
    Barbara @ Hole In The Donut Travels
    September 11, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Happy anniversary, Heather! What a novel idea for a celebration. Croatia is so high on my list – I can’t wait to go there, and your photo and description of the food made me want to go that much more.

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    September 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Happy Anniversary! Totally agree with your idea on extending travel memories through food! Before I leave Vietnam I”m having a local friend teach me how to make Pho and other traditional food so that I can cook for family and friends when I return home!
    Your food looked scrumptious!

  • Reply
    Mare - Istria
    September 28, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    It’s nice to see that you enjoyed Croatia and Istria so much. Would you consider coming back? I mean, this food is best if you eat it right where it comes from. 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 28, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    @ Mare Istria

    Of course, I’d love to go back to Croatia – I see you have some interesting accommodation on your website

  • Reply
    Mare - Istria
    September 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    @admin I glad to hear that. I would be happy If anything on my site helped you to come back.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    The food looks delicious. Was wondering what the best time of year to go there is? Thanks.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    October 15, 2009 at 8:27 pm


    I’d say that spring right through the autumn would be a great time to go. We were there in August, and I did not find it as unbearably hot as Greece at that time of year – it was pleasant and sunny. Of course the coastal resorts are very busy in July and August, but once you move inland, there’s plenty of space, even in August.

  • Reply
    Lady Gaga Games
    October 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm

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